Bonneville plays Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, in the hit British series, and rumours have been rife that the show is killing off his yellow Labrador, named Isis, because the dog shares its name with the Sunni jihadist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Downton Abbey fans in the U.K., who watched the latest episode of the show's fifth season on Sunday, learned that Isis — the dog — had been diagnosed with cancer. The plot twist sparked speculation that the show's producers were killing off the pooch to avoid any association with the militant group.
But Bonneville, a veteran British actor, posted a message on his website to put the rumours to rest.
"The Labrador that appeared in series one (1912-14) was a dog called Pharaoh," Bonneville explained. "From series two (1916-1920) onwards, the Labrador has been a bitch named – in keeping with the Egyptian theme – Isis."
Bonneville also has said it's complete nonsense for anyone to believe that producers would ditch the dog over developments in the Middle East.
A number of businesses have scrambled to rebrand their Isis-named products in light of ISIS.
It appears ITV, the network behind Downton, isn't one of them.